April 2010



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After a surfeit of football, beer and crowds, you will be desperate to escape into the landscape and clear your head. International good will has its limits and, lets face it, with the notable exception of Cape Town, South African cities have little going for them: they are charmless, at times dangerous and definitely not what people come here for.

Here are some perfect antidotes, all within a few hours of a World Cup stadium.

iMfolozi Walking Safari

White Umfolozi River

  • There is nothing like tramping through scrub and long grass where big beasts lurk – rhino, elephant, lion, buffalo – to bring you close to nature, red in tooth and claw.
  • The Shushlui-iMfolozi park is beautiful countryside around the White iMfolozi river, with a wide range of game. It is Zulu heartland, with memories, if few traces, of its Zulu past.
  • This is marvellous but tiring walking in remote, dangerous landscape, on which you will need guides and support. You will camp in the middle of nowhere. Come prepared.


The Fugitives’ Trail, Isandlwana to the Buffalo River


The saddle

  • A remarkable walk from the great rock of Isandlwana to the Fugitives’ Drift on the Buffalo River.
  • Survey the scene of a famous victory of a courageous, disciplined Zulu army over a large British column. Follow the route of the few who escaped the carnage, through an area that is pregnant with history.
  • Walk through beautiful scenery, made poignant by the whitewashed rocks that mark the graves of those who died that day.


The Otter Trail, Eastern Cape


Surf and spray

  • A superb trail along the magnificent, empty coast of South Africa’s Eastern Cape. A favourite for many.
  • All the delights of true wilderness – a variety of beautiful landscape, fascinating animals and intriguing vegetation.
  • This is a demanding 4 – 5 day walk with a lot of up and down and serious river crossings, on which you will have to be self-sufficient (but sleep in huts). Day walks at each end are very doable.

Walkopedia rating:
More information on this walk


The Drakensbergs

The Sentinel

  • The amazing Drakensberg run north-west to south-east for over 200km, dividing the plains of Kwazulu-Natal from the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.
  • The Drakensberg are in fact an escarpment at the edge of the high Lesotho plateau, although they look like mountains from below: a long line of vast cliffs, eroded into fantastical shapes and famous formations.
  • The foothills, the little Berg, are very beautiful, and outstanding walking in their own right.
  • The range is so vast that few will walk its full length. The best Drakensberg walks are the long treks along the escarpment. But the walking options, including day walks, are legion.


Table Mountain, Cape Town

Over Cape Town
  • Table Mountain, looming above Cape Town, often sporting in its trademark blanket of cloud, is truly ionic.
    A variety of trails take you up, through changing bands of fascinating fynbos vegetation, into gaps in the famous precipices and then to the broken plateau of the top, with its magnificent views of hills, city and ocean.
  • Or you can pop up on the cable car and follow a selection of the trails on the top.
  • The top is always crowded. Despite that, this is not a walk to miss.

Walkopedia rating: 83
More information on this walk


Cape of Good Hope

Cape of Good Hope
  • The magic of this place is its combination of Ocean beauty, fabulous fynbos vegetation and historical resonance.
  • There is a variety of trails, but the best takes you along the booming cliffs and beaches of the Atlantic coast, then turn inland, through changing bands of vivid and varied fynbos.
  • The Cape of Good Hope has had resonance for travellers for centuries, "rounding the Cape" a key and risky landmark on the routes to India, Australia and the Far East.
  • Cape Point is always crowded and has an unpleasant baboon population. Despite that, this is not a walk to miss.

Walkopedia rating:
More information on this walk
William Mackesy’s full account of this walk


Expedition Organisers

We have used and liked Traverseline, who have a particular speciality in the Drakensbergs, but will have exciting ideas about many places in South Africa.

Great Website

See www.footprint.co.za for the delightful, inspiring Footprint Hiking Club website, which is packed with information about wonderful South African walks of all lengths and types.

What the internet should be all about ...

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Mount Athos, Greece
Lofoten Islands, Norway

  • The mountainous monastery peninsula of Mt. Athos protrudes, as the easternmost finger of the Halkidiki Peninsula, some 60km into the northern Aegean Sea. It is home to a multitude of Orthodox monastic houses, fortified against the raiders of history, which perch on crags and slumber in sandy coves. They shelter beautiful, ancient buildings, paintings and other treasures.
  • Walk on the ancient paths, contouring cliffs and crossing the wooded hillsides, that link the monasteries. Enjoy big views of the rugged mountains and the sea and the beautiful and varied vegetation.
  • Only men are allowed on the peninsula. Access is limited and permits are hard to get.
  • Extraordinary chain of granite mountain-islands off the coast of northern Norway, inside the Arctic Circle.
  • Ice-hewn peaks and spires rising sheer from the sea with fishing villages clinging to any scrap of flat land, often on stilts above the rocky shoreline.
  • A wide variety of outstanding walks, up among the crags and lakes of the mountains and the wild Atlantic coastline.

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Editors: William and Alexandra Mackesy

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